My Health Journey
Although I didn’t have a name for it at the time, I realize now that I had symptoms of low blood sugar, or reactive hypoglycemia, since childhood. If I didn’t eat frequently, I became irritable, with shakiness and headaches. By my early 20’s, I had learned to eat a lot at one sitting and eat frequent snacks to avoid blood sugar drops, which sometimes led to fainting spells. When I was in my junior year in college, I studied abroad in Costa Rica, and took many rounds of antibiotics for various ailments, from sinus infections to yeast infections, UTIs, and skin rashes. I also went on birth control pills.In the years that followed, my sugar cravings intensified, and I depended on coffee and diet soda to get me through the day.
The thing that most bothered me was the yeast infections, which by this point had become chronic. I went to multiple doctors who confirmed the yeast infections with a culture, but I didn’t hear any novel ideas as to treatment. I wasn’t told that what I had was not an “infection” like a virus, but what is called Candida overgrowth. The yeast Candida Albicans was proliferating in my body.
Increasingly frustrated, I continued taking the prescription steroid creams and tablets, and self-administered a LOT of Monistat. Nothing made any difference. Internet searches made me worried I had diabetes or HIV. A couple of places would mention frequent antibiotic use in the past as being a culprit (check) but I didn’t know what to do about that – just try never to need antibiotics again? It got so bad that the only time I would get relief from the intense burning and itching that kept me up at night was the five days a month when I was on my period.
I started to do my own research to try to get to the bottom of things, and heard about yeast possibly feeding on sugar in the diet, but I really couldn’t wrap my mind around how a problem “down there” would have anything to do with the food that I ate. Then I came across the phrase “heal your gut” and The Gut and Psychology Syndrome diet by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. Wow! I had found the land of healing foods: butter, homemade lactose-free yogurt, egg yolks, bone broth, grass fed meat, liver, leafy greens, sauerkraut, and sardines? I was desperate and willing to give it a try.
So, did I give up the sugar? Yes I did. And did the yeast infections go away? Yes, they did. Immediately. I’ve not had another once since that moment in 2010 when I started the GAPS Diet. I learned what makes food high-quality and how to eat in a way that stabilized my glucose levels and ensured I would absorb all the important nutrients I was ingesting. I actually had control over my symptoms. And, like peeling back the layers of an onion, I started a journey to find my true, holistic, wellness. The yeast infections were the outside layer, the most noticeable problem, and the easiest to make go away. But, that was just the beginning.
Over the next several years I went through extensive trial and error introducing new foods and therapeutic lifestyle practices. I geeked out on the emerging science of the gut microbiome and epigenetics. I found the foods that made me feel well and those that made me feel poorly. I realized what types of exercise was supporting my body and what was breaking it down. (Hint: long distance running was breaking it down.) I learned how to chart my menstrual cycles to understand when I am fertile and when I am not fertile so I don’t need to take synthetic birth control pills. I no longer suffer from anemia, asthma, acne, IBS, chronic constipation, fainting, or low blood sugar.
I became a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and an instructor for the Nutritional Therapy Association so I may educate others about food. I am thankful that now I feel healthier and more balanced than ever. While not “perfect” — I don’t think that exists — I wake up energized and clear-headed, ready to take on every day, and I can live with that.
I look forward to meeting you and being part of your story!